Modena Pigeon: Breed Guide

The Modena pigeon is a breed of fancy pigeon.

Its look was achieved through many years of selective breeding.

In many circles, the Modena pigeon is considered the top show pigeon in the world.

modena pigeon breed guide

This breed of pigeon has a long history and is a great choice for beginner pigeon enthusiasts because it is beautiful to look at, easy to breed and has a great temperament. 

Modena Pigeon Origins

This pigeon probably has one of the most colourful histories of any breed.

True to its name, it first appeared in the town of Modena in Northern Italy.

The modern Modena is very different to the original breed.

It is thought that the pigeons we know today as Modena were of a breed of 2000+ years standing having been used extensively by the Ancient Romans.

We also know that according to documentary evidence, in the 1300s, the Modena was a small and slim bird used for racing.

This was a crazy time for pigeons in Modena. Racing was fiercely competitive –  they used to hold what was known as a “Pigeon Olympiad”.

The intense rivalry between owners became violent.

Rival owners would kidnap other owners’ birds holding them to ransom or destroying them.

There is even historical evidence of incidents where explosives were attached to captured birds who were sent back to their owner’s flock to deliberately kill as many of the rival birds as possible.

Eventually, Modena’s city officials had to pass laws to prevent the killing of birds from an opposing team/owner. 

There’s not much known from then on.

The story picks up and gains pace in the 1800s.

By now, the sport of racing had been dying out and the pigeons kept for show purposes.

An American imported a Modena from Amsterdam in 1834 and a Professor Bonizzi sent 50 pairs of Modena to Germany in 1878 and from there it is known that at least one pair was imported into England. 

Sometime previous to that, the Modena had been crossed with the Florentine pigeon and others, so beginning the selective breeding that resulted in the beautiful bird so prized today.

Breeding resulted in shorter bodies and wider breasts than the original bird and a change in the range of colours. 

Flying ability also decreased in the newer birds so much so that today’s Modenas are mostly for show purposes or kept as pets

It is widely accepted that the modern Modena can trace its genealogy back to the Bonizzi pigeons sent to Germany but because most of the selective breeding that let led to the modern pigeon, the breed is most commonly known now as the English Modena. 

The selective breeding produced a very striking difference in the old and modern Modena as illustrated below.

Modean Pigeon Appearance

Modena pigeons average about 25 cm tall and 18 cm long.

They typically weigh about 350 grams.

They have a proud and erect posture with a generously proportioned breast, they are similar in build to the Florentine pigeon and the Strasser pigeon.

modena pigeon

Unlike most pigeons, its wings are uptilted, and the tail is carried high.

They generally have a soft, rounded appearance often defined as cute.

There’s a lot of variation in Modena pigeon colours.

They are the most amazing pigeons in that they are the breed that comes in so many more colours than any other. In 1876, Professor P. Bonizzi identified and documented 152 colours of the pigeon.

Some of these colours have been bred out and other, new colours, have been bred in.

The Modena Pigeon Club of Great Britain currently officially recognises 75 colours. 

There are two variations – based on pattern type – these are the Schietti (solid-coloured) and the Gazzi (pied – white body with coloured head, wing and tail). 

Some of the colour combinations and patterns are extremely striking and attractive, only adding to their reputation of being beautiful birds.

Modena Pigeon Behaviour

Much like other types of pigeons, Modenas are docile and easy to tame. That makes them great show birds, but they’re also ideal for raising as pets.

They’re a great starter bird for people who are new to pigeons and their habits. They don’t mind being handled and are sociable, so they coexist well with other pigeons. 

Breeding Modena Pigeons

Modena pigeons usually lay two eggs per clutch.

Usually a breeding pair will lay a male and a female egg.

breeding modena pigeons

The mother and father pigeon generally work together to feed and rear the squabs.

As with all pigeon breeds, the Modena incubates its eggs and then spends a few weeks feeding the young crop milk and caring for them until they are ready to leave the nest. 

Modena Pigeon Variations

The German Modena pigeon is a breed variation.

Like the Italian version, this one was selectively bred over many years, but its origins are in Germany – most likely to have come from those imported from Professor Bonizzi.

It’s also called Modene Type Allemand, Deutsche Modeneser or Modenese Tedesco.

They were originally intended as flying birds, but eventually became ornamental. 

Smaller than the English Modena, in the German Modena the features are less rounded, the wings have less of an uptilt and the tail is not carried as high..

They have a longer neck and fuller breast than the English Modena and shorter wings and tail feathers.

Their base feathers are fluffy, while the rest of their feathers are smooth.

Overall, the German Modena has a shape and stature much like that of a common barnyard chicken

The German Modena is considered easier to care for than its English counterpart.

It’s a good choice for a pet and is easy to tame and take care of.

It is well behaved and gets along with other birds well. 

If you’re looking for a docile and friendly pigeon, the Modena pigeon is the ideal choice.

Not only are they easy to get along with, but they are attractive too. 



Dan has been fascinated with pigeons since his youth when he used to feed them breadcrumbs at the local park. With a background in SEO Dan noticed a few years ago that there were very few websites around dedicated to his favorite bird so he set out to change that by starting Pigeonpedia.

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